Optical Technologies in the Fight Against Bioterrorism

Tyler Krupa

Optical technologies that can detect or destroy biological agents could play a major role in protecting communities from bioterrorist attacks such as the anthrax mailings that killed five people and infected dozens more in the U.S. this past autumn. Devices that improve response capability to biological attacks are crucial to minimizing the threat because of the lag time between exposure to the biological agent and the appearance of symptoms. Fixed and portable optical sensors that identify biological organisms in minutes are available. Sensor technology, coupled with new germicidal irradiation techniques that instantaneously eradicate bacteria spores, could help minimize human casualties in the event of future attacks.

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